Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink will expect a big response from Manchester City when the Citizens arrive Stamford Bridge for Sunday’s FA Cup fifth round clash and with a place in the quarter-finals at stake, there is all to play for as the two sides meet in the competition for the third time in four years.
Most Blues faithfuls will agree that there were so many impressive aspects of the spirited performance in midweek in France against Paris Saint-Germain, that Chelsea should approach this clash with rising confidence.
However, the Parisiens’ late winner means progress in the Champions League is far from certain for Hiddink’s men and success in the FA Cup remains, perhaps, the clearest route to European football in 2016/17. Whoever wins Sunday’s game will be one just step from Wembley, two from the final.
Chelsea have won the FA Cup trophy seven times, most recently four years ago, and Manchester City have five successes to their name. Revenge can be gained on the Citizens, who ended the West Londoners’ hopes in 2013 and 2014 as they face the Blues at Stamford Bridge in this competition for only the second time.
Hiddink’s men have been in fine form of late and suffered their only defeat since Hiddink took charge against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday despite a solid performance. By contrast, Manuel Pellegrini’s side go into Sunday’s match having lost successive Premier League matches, at home to Leicester and Tottenham.
Manchester City play Chelsea’s UCL group G runners-up Dynamo Kiev in a few days’ time and, bemoaning the lack of recovery and preparation time for the Champions League fixture, their outgoing manager, Manuel Pellegrini, suggested he would field a ‘young team’ this Sunday which Hiddink and his men should take advantage of.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have a clear week after this in which to prepare for Southampton away, and two-and-a-half weeks before the decisive return leg against Paris Saint-Germain.
Chelsea and City will probably have a new man at the helm come summer. While a permanent successor to Jose Mourinho has not been appointed, City have already announced Pep Guardiola will replace Pellegrini. There is logic in ending unsettling rumors by confirming a replacement, but its impact on dressing room morale when four titles are still up for grabs is unclear, especially when some players have previously found themselves out of favor with the incoming man.
Chelsea and Manchester City meet for the sixth time in the FA Cup. Chelsea’s only FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge was in 1971 when as holders the Blues lost 0-3.
Chelsea have not beaten Manchester City in the FA Cup for more than a century. Success at the Mancunians’ Hyde Road ground – 101 years ago this weekend on 20 Feb 1915 – led to the Pensioners’ first appearance in the final, the only one played during World War One.
The Citizens’ most recent visit to Stamford Bridge, just over a year ago in the Premier League, ended in a 1-1 draw. With Diego Costa suspended, Loic Remy led the line for the champions elect, and it was the Frenchman who broke the deadlock five minutes before the break.
For teams that will progress in the Saturday and Sunday fixtures, the draw for the FA Cup quarter-finals takes place on Sunday at approximately 6.15pm and Guus Hiddink will hope his side make it to the final eight draws.